Cal Preview

With both teams coming off frustrating losses, the Arizona State Sun Devils and Cal Bears will both be playing to get their first Pac-10 win at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday. The Sun Devils (6-6) are coming off a 71-60 loss to Stanford and the Bears (8-5) were beaten by Arizona, 94-85.

The loss to Stanford was tough for ASU because Stanford has seemed vulnerable so far and the Sun Devils inability to shoot the ball to go along with foul trouble limited their aggressiveness and enabled Stanford to control the game throughout. Sophomore C Jeff Pendergraph led ASU with 17 points and 11 rebounds and freshman G Christian Polk was the only other Devil in double digits with 11. Stanford was led by four players in double digits with sophomore G Anthony Goods and junior F Taj Finger each scoring 14.

Cal only lost by nine in Tucson but the game was not that close as Arizona was just better in all facets of the game and made the Bears look like they didn't belong for the first 35 minutes of the game. Senior G Ayinde Ubaka had 17 points and freshman F Ryan Anderson to lead the Bears.

Head Coach Ben Braun (11th season, 194-126 with Stanford, 379-258 Career)

Projected Starters

PG – Ayinde Ubaka – (13.7 PPG, 5.4 APG)
SG – Omar Wilkes – (10.5 PPG, 53% FG)
SF – Patrick Christopher – (3.2 PPG, 2.1 RPG)
PF – Theo Robertson – (7.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG)
C – Ryan Anderson – (17.8 PPG, 9.1 RPG)

Impact Reserves

G – Jerome Randle (7.4 PPG, 1.7 RPG)
F – Eric Vierneisel (2.4 PPG, 0.8 RPG)
C – Taylor Harrison (0.6 PPG, 1.4 RPG)

Overview

As both teams enter the game hungry for their first win, the Sun Devils and the Bears will pit 2 struggling teams searching for their identity. On one hand, ASU is a talented but team with a new coach in a rebuilding mode and Cal is a team with a solid mix of experience and youth but missing their best post player to injury and relying heavily on freshmen to produce.

Cal is led by star freshman big man Ryan Anderson who has been a beast underneath scoring 17.8 points and bringing down 9.1 rebounds while shooting the ball at a 53% clip. Leading the team on and off the floor is senior PG Ayinde Ubaka. Ubaka is scoring 13.7 a game while distributing the ball well with 5.4 assists a game. Kansas transfer, junior G Omar Wilkes has done well so far scoring 10.5 a game and shooting 53% from the floor. After junior C DeVon Hardin went down last week, the Bears have mixed and matched to find a balanced rotation and sophomore F Theo Robertson and freshman F Patrick Christopher have given the Bears a smaller but more up-tempo look.

The Bears bench has been one of the steadiest in the conference so far this season and will continue to be strength for Cal. Tiny freshman G Jerome Randle has been an explosive weapon off the bench scoring 7.8 PPG and dishing out 4 assists a game while spelling Ubaka or Wilkes. Junior F Eric Vierneisel has been a pleasant surprise as of late picking up more minutes than usual after Hardin went down. Against Arizona, Vierneisel had 10 points in 25 minutes. The player who will pick up the biggest increase in minutes due to Hardin's injury will be freshman C Taylor Harrison who picked up 6 rebounds against Arizona and will undoubtedly be used more often as the season picks up and Hardin nurses his injury.

Guards This will be a tough task for the Sun Devils as Ubaka and Wilkes make up a very talented backcourt for the Bears. Not to mention the fiery Randle off the bench, Cal will give the young ASU guards a hard time. The Bears have shot well behind the arc this season and if ASU lets Ubaka and Wilkes heat up, it will be hard to pick up the pieces. For ASU, senior Antwi Atuahene and freshman Derek Glasser will have to limit their mistakes and feed the ball to Pendergraph and senior F Serge Angounou to be successful.

Solid Edge – Cal

Forwards

This is where the Sun Devils will need to take advantage. Angounou and sophomore Sylvester Seay will have to use their size and outside shooting to pick on the smaller Bear forwards and stretch the floor so Pendergraph and control the boards and get more scoring opportunities on offensive rebounds. Robertson, Christopher, and Vierneisel have been good so far but they are undersized and playing out of position due to the Hardin injury.

Slight Edge – ASU

Centers

Jeff Pendergraph squaring off against Ryan Anderson will definitely be an interesting match-up to watch. No one figured Anderson would be so dominant this quickly but he has already established himself as a great scorer and rebounder and Pendergraph has a similar pedigree. Both players are very similar and it will be fun to watch. One reason the Bears can be optimistic is the improving play of Harrison. Harrison is a good relief for Anderson because he brings more defensive energy to the table with his ability to rebound and block shots.

Slight Edge – Cal

Final Score – Cal 69 – ASU 63

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